At some point, you’re all going to get sick of how much I trust some insiders. But I operate in that way, and I feel like I can filter out information that feels smokescreen-y, even if I don’t attempt to do much of that in the rumor roundups I occasionally post.
Today, there’s more drama from the 2014 NFL Draft.
Albert Breer, who spent all his time covering the draft hunkered down with the Vikings, fully published his “insider look” at the Vikings draft process, and what the Vikings went through in order to get Teddy Bridgewater.
A couple of things about this: first, if you’re not going to believe this, no argument will convince you. Not because the weight of the argument is so compelling, but the specificity, matter-of-factness and access involved Breer’s story is telling and if you don’t believe it, you don’t. There’s enough information from traditionally extremely reliable insiders (Jay Glazer, Paul Allen and to a lesser extent Ian Rapaport) to indicates as much, and only two reports (one from Benjamin Allbright who I like and another from Kurt Warner who…?) that contradict them, without much of a track record.
Further, the initial reports by Glazer, et. al were confirmed a day later with a separate report from those who claim to have access to sources who were in the war room. If you don’t believe them, fine. Many of them have a strong history of being historically accurate and not much incentive to lie.
As it stands, that’s the truth as I see it. I’ve indicated in the past that I think that this issue is slightly more complicated than it seems. The board was such that Manziel was ahead of Bridgewater by a small, almost-negligible amount but were on the same tier. But that board reflects Spielman’s opinion.
Everything I’ve heard about Norv Turner, including that sycophantic take by Sid Hartman (it’s not my only information), strongly implies that Turner valued Teddy above everyone else in the draft. That would further imply (that’s two causal leaps, for those keeping track) that Spielman preferred Manziel’s upside (he said that Bridgewater was the best QB on film) to Teddy’s readiness.
Regardless, it’s a settled question in my mind, and more importantly irrelevant. I’ve always felt Bridgewater was the best quarterback in the draft, and it’s awesome that the Vikings got him, as flawed as the process may be.
Should the Vikings have missed on Manziel AND Bridgewater, they were prepared to take Jimmy Garoppolo at 40 and Tom Savage at 72. Consider ourselves lucky.
The whole piece is fascinating, as it details the entire process, including several meetings with each quarterback and multiple visits with different purposes behind each visit.
There’s a bit on how they tried to trade:
Assistant GM George Paton and VP of football operations Rob Brzezinski started making calls at No. 20 and went on down the line. They made a run at No. 22, but an Eagles source said the Vikings‘ offer wasn’t close to Cleveland’s – the Browns gave up No. 26 and No. 83 to take that selection and grab Manziel — largely because Philly would have had to drop down 18 spots in a deal with Minnesota, while the swap with Cleveland merely moved the Eagles four spots down.
There’s a bit on how they did end up trading down one spot to the Browns:
And who they would have taken, along with the thought process behind it:
The Vikings had Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater on the same horizontal tier of their board, with Manziel slightly ahead — technically, Manziel was No. 1 and Bridgewater was No. 2. Both were a bit of a stretch with the eighth pick, but both were worth more than the 40th pick, which was Minnesota’s second selection. Minnesota categorized the quarterbacks in buckets, with Garoppolo viewed as worthy of being taken with that 40th pick and Savage viewed as a third-round consideration.
And finally, how they plan for the draft:
All the while, Spielman and his personnel people were running through dozens and dozens of scenarios. It’s not an accident that the Vikings have traded back into the bottom of the first round in three straight drafts. “Those guys (in the first round) are the best players. So if you get an opportunity to get the best players possible, why not do that? … Historically, your best chance of hitting is in the first round.”
One four-hour, marathon session of mock scenarios actually included the scenario that came up on Thursday — so the Vikings were ready.
But yes, the Vikings wanted Manziel, and I’m glad they couldn’t make the choice. Now to await the Super Bowl.